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- Tried & Tested
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- Tried & Tested
I flew return LHR to CPT via JNB, so got to experience the newish SAA A330 service 3 times (one leg was 737). My overall opinion is that I’d be happy to fly SAA A330 again, but wouldn’t go out of my way for it.
So, what’s to like?………….
Well, for starters, the seat (a window on each sector) was easily roomy enough for me while I was awake. I’m approx 6 feet tall and trim, so tend to prefer knee room rather than seat width and was a little worried that the A330s favouring width compared with A340s favouring knee room would be a problem, but it wasn’t. Being new, the cushioning was also in good condition.
The supplied blanket was big enough to wrap around and still be able to move without it riding up or leaving cold gaps.
The A330 itself always seems fairly smooth to me, and tends to have particularly smooth landings. Which I appreciate!
I also liked the cabin crew. Not overly friendly, but not cold or officious either. Simply got on with their jobs professionally.
The IFE offered more than enough movie, TV and radio options for me, as an irregular traveller on SAA, plus some menu details etc.
Drinks. Was nice to see a decent local range.
What’s not to like?………………
I struggle to find an economy seat that I get comfortable in for sleeping and the SAA A330 seat is no different. I’m simply always looking for an extra few degrees of recline. The main problem though was the headrest arrangement. My preference is for nice substantial wings that let me wedge myself in a bit and leave me no chance of sliding sideways and waking myself (or otehrs) up. The SAA arrangement didn’t provide this.
Many of the films (maybe all of them? – I didn’t check) are shown in pan and scan (ie cropped at the sides), even though the LCD is widescreen. Always seems an off thing to do.
The colour scheme (a sort of sand, with red blanet etc) isn’t the most soothing. But then I’m used to greenery so maybe this depends on where you are from.
The new luggage allowance arrangements are definitely not as good as they used to be. The main issue is the use of an overall cm system which might be fine if all airlines used the same figure but is a nuisance when they don’t. So might mean having to buy new luggage to fit SAA if you usually travel on airlines with a larger (or no) cm limit.
Finally, I’d have liked a more frequent drinks check. Just for water etc.
The ‘same everyhwere’…………….
Food. Nothing special, perhaps a bit on the small size, and could do with 1 more option, but perfectly edible and went down well.
I guess I’d give the SAA A330 a 7.5 – 8.0.
If I was to add in airports, connections, and interlining I’d have to drop the score. I connected in on a OneWorld flight and had to collect my luggage at LHR and manhandle across terminals to re-check it. Then at JNB I had to collect it again and again re-check it. At LHR, the gate was at the very end of the pier, so what with the terminal changes and distances and hauling it was more of a slog than I’d care to do often. Then at JNB the regular desks had failed and redirection to a suitable desk (which turned out to be upstairs) was non-existent. The return trip was much smoother, but if going out LHR-JNB-CPT, it may be advisable to go for longer connections.